[ nim-buhs ]
See synonyms for nimbus on
noun,plural nim·bi [nim-buhbahy], /ˈnɪm bəbaɪ/, nim·bus·es.
  1. Classical Mythology. a shining cloud sometimes surrounding a deity when on earth.

  2. a cloud, aura, atmosphere, etc., surrounding a person or thing: The candidate was encompassed with a nimbus of fame.

  1. the type of dense clouds or cloud mass with ragged edges, that yields rain or snow; a rain cloud.

  2. (initial capital letter)U.S. Aerospace. one of a series of polar-orbiting meteorological and environmental research satellites, the last of which Nimbus 7, launched 1978, was the first satellite designed to monitor atmospheric pollutants.

Origin of nimbus

First recorded in 1600–10; from Latin, “rainstorm, rain cloud, thundercloud, cloud”; akin to Latin nebula and Greek nephélē, néphos “cloud,” and Slavic (Polish ) niebo “sky, heaven”

Other words from nimbus

  • nimbused, adjective

Words Nearby nimbus Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use nimbus in a sentence

  • As journalists report bolder acts by the renegades, nimbus and his friends are forced to move further from childhood innocence.

  • But the nimbus was not worn at all at this early period; such a criterion is therefore inadmissible.

    The Catacombs of Rome | William Henry Withrow
  • In one example Mary wears a nimbus, a proof of comparatively late date.

    The Catacombs of Rome | William Henry Withrow
  • In later art the hand is sometimes surrounded by a cruciform nimbus, to indicate more clearly its divine character.

    The Catacombs of Rome | William Henry Withrow
  • This is a Saint, as he has the nimbus round his head, and from his young and beardless face it is probably St. John.

  • Overcast skies of heavy nimbus cloud were the rule and the air was continually charged with drifting snow.

    The Home of the Blizzard | Douglas Mawson

British Dictionary definitions for nimbus


/ (ˈnɪmbəs) /

nounplural -bi (-baɪ) or -buses
    • a dark grey rain-bearing cloud

    • (in combination): cumulonimbus clouds

    • an emanation of light surrounding a saint or deity

    • a representation of this emanation

  1. a surrounding aura or atmosphere

Origin of nimbus

C17: from Latin: cloud, radiance

Derived forms of nimbus

  • nimbused, adjective

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for nimbus


[ nĭmbəs ]

Plural nimbi (nĭmbī′) nimbuses
  1. A rain cloud.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.